Posted by: aboutalbion | July 6, 2012

British identity

Do people who are born British citizens take ‘Britishness’ for granted?

This question was raised in my weekly newspaper last Saturday.  There was a report from a study of 40,000 households, which included 10,000 individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds.  The study found that ‘being British’ was more important to ethnic minority group members than it was to the indigenous ‘white’ population.

The chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission commented that this report proved that immigrants ‘loved Britain’ and had settled in the UK because of British values.

My mind is drawn to consider ways in which the indigenous population could express their commitment to the country of their birth.  If those who are becoming British citizens have to make a public pledge at a Citizenship ceremony, why shouldn’t the children of the indigenous population have to do something similar when they reach, say, voting age.

The words of the public pledge are: “I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms.  I will uphold its democratic values.  I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.”

Alternatively, I am wondering how I would feel if, at each general election, the words of the pledge were at the top of the voting paper, and the opportunity was there to renew my assent to the pledge.  The list of candidates for election could then follow.

However, the current position seems to be that (as one commentator put it), ‘those who have had to work harder to be British feel more British’.

[Institute for Social and Economic Research (2012) Understanding Society.]

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